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Exclusive: State Department Gives U.S. Territory to Cuba

Friday, 03 November 2000 12:00 AM

Numerous islands and islets surrounding Cuba remain sovereign territory of the U.S. However, the U.S. State Department has given them away, without public debate or official treaty, charges retired U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Carl Olson of State Department Watch.

Included in the island groups are Cayo Coco, Cayo Romano, Cayo Guajaba, Cayo Sabinal, Cayo Largo, the Archipielago de Sabana and the Archipielago de los Jardines de la Reina.

It is not known how many people, if any, live on the islands, but Olson points out the monetary loss of this territory could be in the billions of dollars. He points out that by turning over these islands to Cuba, the U.S. loses a vast potential of mineral wealth as well as tens of thousands of square miles of fishing rights.

Exclusive economic zones surrounding each one of the islands that would have been for the United States' taking have been forfeited to Cuba without any bilateral agreement or fanfare.

On top of all this, the State Department established a maritime boundary between Cuba and the United States because the two countries are less than 200 miles from each other's shore.

According to international law, all sovereign countries have fishing and mineral rights up to 200 miles off their coasts. Only when two countries are in closer proximity than the needed 400-mile buffer zone does a maritime boundary need to be agreed upon.

The Cuba-U.S. State Department maritime boundary cuts in the middle of the Florida Strait between the state of Florida and Cuba. A problem with this is that in the process, it arbitrarily puts all the American-owned islands onto the Cuban side.

The 1977 maritime boundary agreement between the U.S. and Cuba was never presented to Congress as a formal treaty.

Outraged by the State Department's abuse of authority, Olson said: "We find that the State Department's ongoing concessions to the communist regime in Havana an unconstitutional abuse of the American public. Disposals of American territory and sovereignty must be done only with the advice and consent of Congress."

Also jumping into the debate over the Caribbean islands is the U.S. Census Bureau. Charged with counting the population in all U.S. states and territories, the Census Bureau sent a query letter to the State Department on June 29 of this year asking if the islands in the Caribbean Sea are still eligible for census enumeration.

"We are told that Spain ceded these islands to the United States in 1898, and that the United States did not subsequently cede them to Cuba," wrote Associate Census Director John H. Thompson to William B. Wood, director of the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues at the State Department.

"Our source asserts that Cuba consists of only two islands – the main island of Cuba and the Island of Pines (or Isla de la Juventud) – and therefore, any adjacent islands should still belong to the United States."

The letter goes on to press the issue further, requesting that if the U.S. once had jurisdiction over the islands but does no longer, to please "identify [by] what treaty or other legal action the island was relinquished to another nation."

NewsMax.com contacted Donald Hirschfeld, who had retired from the Census Bureau and was now working on this issue for the bureau again under contract. He said the last time he spoke with the Office of the Geographer at the State Department was Oct. 11. Still, nothing has happened.

Historically, the Census Bureau's assertions regarding American sovereignty of the islands are accurate.

On Dec. 10, 1898, a peace treaty was signed in Paris between the U.S. and Spain after the Spanish-American War. Article I of the treaty ceded only the island of Cuba to the U.S. Article II ceded Puerto Rico and the other Spanish Islands in the West Indies to the U.S. These islands included those around Cuba.

U.S. military occupation of Cuba ended on May 20, 1902, and a new nation was born. However, this nation included only the big island of Cuba. On March 13, 1925, the U.S. also ceded the Isle of Pines to Cuba, but no other island to this day was ever given to Cuba by treaty.

Olson told NewsMax.com he wondered why the State Department hasn't energetically pursued America's basic interests regarding the islands. He suggests the State Department has some other agenda with Cuba and the country's communist dictator, Fidel Castro.

"Think about this. Castro's been there how long? A half-century? So how come no real effort has been done to get rid of him?" Olson asked.

"He's 90 miles away. It would be so simple. Apparently, the State Department likes to have him there."

Olson said another issue surrounding the islands around Cuba is airspace. According to Olson, the U.S. measures Cuban airspace from the island of Cuba. Castro's regime, however, measures it from the islands.

Concluding the whole debate over the islands, though, Olson asks how Cuba acquired sovereignty over the territory from the United States.

"That's the question," Olson said. "Did Cuba invade the islands, and we have yet to draw up a peace treaty following this invasion?

"You know, the State Department loves to let these things just float around. You can never trust them. Maybe they're just chicken."

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Numerous islands and islets surrounding Cuba remain sovereign territory of the U.S.However, the U.S. State Department has given them away, without public debate or official treaty, charges retired U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Carl Olson of State Department Watch. Included in the...
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Friday, 03 November 2000 12:00 AM
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